Last week I went to a day seminar by a Beverly White, PhD, RD entitled Food Cravings, Habits and Emotions. We spent several minutes reviewing the brain and its reward pathways. You’ve probably heard of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine is also known as the feel good chemical. It’s released when we get a reward but it’s also released in anticipation of getting a reward. There are things in my life that I know produce a dopamine high. Getting in a hot tub, attending a UNC football game, and exercise. Yes, exercise. Now I admit it’s not every time that I am super excited about taking a kickboxing class but most of the time I am. People who like exercise get a dopamine high from the activity. People who hate to exercise do not.
I have some clients at Lifexcel who HATE exercising with me and who complain every single minute of every single personal training session. No matter how much I try to tell them they did a good job or tell them how many calories they just burned it does not seem to matter. Exercise is a form of torture for them. What I learned in this seminar is that this can be reversed. I decided to have a talk with one such client who acts like her personal training sessions are just something she can check off her to do list. What I learned was that she used to love to exercise but due to her age and declining health she cannot push herself like she wants. Every time she works out with me it’s a reminder that her body is failing and she cannot do what she could ten years ago. No wonder that doesn’t produce any dopamine!!! So if you have negative thoughts how do you change this and start pumping out the dopamine?? First, ask yourself why you hate it. Does it bring back bad memories of high school gym class? Memories of running til you threw up in football practice? Realize any negative memories are in the past. You have to let them go. Every day you exercise think about how much good you are doing for your body. Verbalize these things before and after a workout. Reward yourself with a massage or new pair of boots for achieving exercise goals. Step out of your comfort zone and sign up for your first 5K or take a Zumba class. To start producing dopamine you have to have positive thoughts surrounding your exercise experience. As always, you are in control.
If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating topic please give me a call!